PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR
KUWAIT: GENERAL ASSEMBLY PAYS TRIBUTE TO “DEAN OF ARAB DIPLOMACY”
- The General Assembly this morning held a plenary meeting to pay tribute to the late Amir of Kuwait, His Highness, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
- In his speech, the President noted that the Amir was known as “the dean of Arab diplomacy” for his commitment to peace and dialogue.
- He also noted that the Amir, who spent 40 years as Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, played a key role in creating the Gulf Cooperation Council which was, and still is, crucial to strengthening cooperation in the region.
- Recognizing the Amir’s humanitarian role, he said Kuwait’s leadership and funding had saved tens of thousands of lives, and galvanized others to participate in coordinated international action.
- The President extended his deepest condolences to the people of Kuwait and the Amir’s family.
15 COUNTRIES ELECTED TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
- This morning, elections for the Human Rights Council were held in the General Assembly Hall. These are the first elections of the 75th session.
- The fifteen vacant seats were distributed among the regional groups as follows: four seats for the African States; four seats for the Asia-Pacific States; two seats for the Eastern European States; three seats for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two seats for the Western European and other States.
- Membership in the Human Rights Council is open to all UN Member States, and Council members serve for a period of three years. The members are elected directly by secret ballot. To win, a candidate must receive 97 votes, which constitutes a majority of the General Assembly’s 193 States.
- For the four vacant seats for African States, the African Group had endorsed Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Malawi and Senegal.
- For the two vacant seats for Eastern European States, there were two candidates, namely, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
- For the three vacant seats for Latin American and Caribbean States, there were three candidates, namely, Bolivia, Cuba and Mexico.
- For the two vacant seats for Western European and other States, there were two candidates, namely, France and the United Kingdom.
- For the four vacant seats for Asia-Pacific States, there were five candidates, namely, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. Asked whether the Asia-Pacific group was the only one not to have a “clean slate”, the Spokesperson said that was indeed the case. Related to that, the Spokesperson later informed journalists that the final vote counts for that group were as follows: Pakistan (169), Uzbekistan (169), Nepal (150), China (139) and Saudi Arabia (90).
- Asked how the candidates were nominated, the Spokesperson said that there were different methods. For example, the African Group endorsed its candidates. In other cases, individual Member States communicated their requests to be on the ballot to the Secretariat.
- Asked whether there was a way to prevent countries accused of human rights violations from joining the Human Rights Council, the Spokesperson began by noting that the Human Rights Council is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe; addressing situations related to human rights violations; and making recommendations in that regard. It is the epicenter for international dialogue and cooperation on the protection of all human rights.
- He added that the primary responsibility to uphold and champion human rights rests with Member States. The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
- The Spokesperson said that with membership on the Council comes a responsibility to uphold high human rights standards.